A Piece of the World: A Novel (Hardcover)

Staff Pick Badge
A Piece of the World: A Novel By Christina Baker Kline Cover Image
Email or call for price

Staff Reviews

Following her breakout novel, Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline returns to Maine to tell the story behind one of our most iconic paintings, Christina’s World. Juxtaposing the story of how Andrew Wyeth came to paint Christina with Christina’s own life, Kline expertly imagines how an artist sees the interior life of a subject with enough historical detail about the Wyeths, Olsons, and Hathorns (yes, it’s a variation of Hawthorne, as in Nathaniel) to satisfy historical fiction fans. Caught between the elegant summer people and the proud but hardscrabble farm existence of her family, and struggling with life’s disappointments, is Christina cursed by the actions of her ancestor, an unrepentant judge of the Salem witch trials, or simply living out the results of her own decisions?  Her interior resonates so brightly that I’m tempted to take out a set of oils and paint her myself.

— Daniel Goldin

Kline opens the book with a brief prologue, including a statement from the novel's narrator Christina Olson that painter Andrew Wyeth was actually afraid to show her the finished painting Christina's World, which he'd created from inside her home. She explains that Wyeth's 1948 masterwork is not a portrait of her at all. It's wrong in nearly every way, except for the feeling that it captures of her relationship to this house, built by her ancestors, the home in Maine which was the focus of her entire life. An inserted print of the painting, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, closes the book. 

This novel is Christina's story, told by her, imagined by Kline, of the tremendously brave and desperate life she led, and how it culminated in an iconic painting by a man I think of as the American art world's John Steinbeck. Like Steinbeck, Wyeth shows us both the pain and beauty of hope and survival, in unmatched detail. Kline's brilliance is that her words carry the intense sorrow and fierce pride which make humanity both terrifying and spectacular. Her book is noble, and so important to understanding American culture. This is a great piece of deeply researched historical fiction.

— Tim McCarthy



"Exquisite. A must-read.”

--Kristin Hannah

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

"Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden."

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

This edition includes a four-color reproduction of Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World.

About the Author

Christina Baker Kline is the author of six novels, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train as well as A Piece of the World. She lives outside New York City and spends as much time as possible on the coast of Maine. Learn more about Christina at www.christinabakerkline.com.

Praise For…

“The novel evokes the somber grace of [Wyeth’s] paintings … Christina’s yearning, her determination, her will to dream, occupy the emotional center in both the novel and the painting. A Piece of the World is a story for those who want the mysterious made real.” — New York Times Book Review

“Another winner from the author of Orphan Train. In this beautifully observed fictional memoir, Kline uses Andrew Wyeths’ iconic painting Christina’s World as the taking-off point for a moving portrait of the artist’s real-life muse. Book of the week.” — People

“Fans of Kline’s phenomenal 2013 best seller Orphan Train will recognize the way the new novel...brings to vivid life a little-known corner of history...Avoiding sentimental uplift, A Piece of the World offers unsparing insight into the real woman behind the painting.” — USA Today

“The novel provides gorgeous, complicated answers to all the questions the painting stirs, beginning with the day a young painter appears on her porch. Kline has created a memorable and unforgettable voice for Anna Christina Olson, the girl in the field.” — Portland Tribune (Oregon)

“Kline herself is an artist, drawing on the real history of Christina Olson and Andrew Wyeth to conjure up her own haunting portrait.... Kline’s deep research into characters, place, and time period provides the outlines of a compelling story, which she then expertly brings into three dimensions.” — Christian Science Monitor

“Like Wyeth’s paintings, this is a vivid novel about hardscrabble lives and prairie grit and the seemingly small but significant beauties found there.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Artfully (pun intended) inspired by the Andrew Wyeth painting Christina’s World.” — Marie Claire

“Absorbing...A portrait of Maine farm life, of an iron-willed spinster with polio and the accidental friendship that changes everything...Kline has a graceful, arresting style that lifts the narrative, and her portrayal of Andy leavens the entire story.” — Portland Press Herald

“With beautiful and stunning prose, the novel explores the sensitive and complex bond between artist and muse against the beauty of the rural American landscape.” — Daily Beast

“Christina Baker Kline’s remarkable novel, A PIECE OF THE WORLD, is the perfect book club pick.  An evocative, beautifully written, exquisitely researched historical novel that will both teach and enthrall the reader.  A must read for anyone who love history and art. ” — Kristin Hannah

“Kline’s portrait of her main character is moving in an unsentimental way as she evokes the New England landscape, the torment of crippling disease, and the piece of history embodied in Olson’s story.” — Sydney Morning Herald

“With delicate palette, stark images, subtle tones, nuanced brushstrokes, and consummate craftsmanship, Christina Baker Kline has written this novel the way Andrew Wyeth painted the canvas. It is a masterpiece.” — Historical Novel Society

“A novel about not just art, but family and home — things that last, and what it takes for them to do so.” — San Diego Union-Tribune

“[Kline’s] insightful, evocative prose brings Christina’s singular perspective and indomitable spirit to life.” — Publishers Weekly

“Superb...The beauty of Kline’s writing and her grasp of her characters is such that at first you want to sink into this book like a warm bath....Gentle and profound, A Piece of the World shows the healing power of simple, unexpected friendship.” — BookPage

“Baker Kline clearly has done her research on the Olson family, but it is her empathy and imagination that make this book sing....Like the woman in the Wyeth painting, the Christina Olson of this novel is unbowed, confounding, and ultimately inspiring.”  — Providence Journal

“A gorgeous read.” — Real Simple

“Kline’s gift is to dispense with the fustiness and fact-clogged drama that can weigh down some historical novels to tell a pure, powerful story of suffering met with a fight. In fiction, in her quiet way, Christina triumphs - and so does this novel.” — O, the Oprah Magazine

“Skillfully interweaving fact and fiction, Kline creates a starkly lovely, intricately layered portrait...By turns profoundly sad and deeply hopeful.” — First for Women

“Epic.” — Cosmopolitan

With remarkable precision and compassion, A PIECE OF THE WORLD transports us to a mid-century farmhouse on the coast of Maine. But just like the painting that inspired it, this gorgeous novel is about so much more. Heartbreaking and life-affirming.” — Nathan Hill, author of The Nix

“Andrew Wyeth’s celebrated painting Christina’s World has her back to the viewer, but Kline turns her to face the reader, simultaneously equipping her with a back story and a lyrical voice...A character portrait that is painterly, sensuous, and sympathetic.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A graceful, moving and powerful demonstration of what can happen when a fearless literary imagination combines with an inexhaustible curiosity about the past and the human heart.” — Michael Chabon

“The inscrutable figure in the foreground of Wyeth’s Christina’s World is our American Mona Lisa, and Christina Baker Kline has pulled back the veil to imagine her rich story. Tender [and] tragic.” — Lily King, author of Euphoria

“A brilliantly imagined fictional memoir of the woman in the famed Wyeth painting ‘Christina’s World,’ so detailed, moving, and utterly transportive that I’ll never be able to look at the painting again without thinking of this book and the characters who populate its pages.” — Erik Larson

“Kline expertly captures the essence of Wyeth’s iconic masterpiece and its real-life subject, crafting a moving work of historical fiction — Library Journal (starred review)

“Readers will savor the quotidian details that compose Christina’s ‘quiet country life.’ Orphan Train was a best-seller and popular book-discussion choice, so expect demand.”- — Booklist

“Fantastic and touching.” — Library Reads

“Who has not gazed on Wyeth’s picture and wondered, why does that girl have so very far to go?... A pure, powerful story of suffering met with a fight. In fiction, in her quiet way, Christina triumphs--and so does this novel.” — O, the Oprah Magazine

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062356260
ISBN-10: 0062356267
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publication Date: February 21st, 2017
Pages: 320
Language: English